Retailer gets behind county’s producers

THE region’s largest independent retailer officially started the Suffolk roll-out of its drive to promote local produce yesterday.

At a milestone event, the East of England Co-op’s ‘Sourced Locally’ branding was showcased at its Framlingham store, heralding an increased emphasis on some celebrated county-made and regional food and drink from producers including James White Drinks, Pinney’s of Orford, the Suffolk Pate Company and Lane Farm Foods.

Local sourcing manager Kevin Warden was joined by some of the society’s local sourcing partners as the new branding was introduced across its supermarkets and food stores across the county.

The new branding has already been introduced across East of England Co-op stores in Essex, with the ‘Sourced Locally’ branding bringing greater emphasis to the society’s support for the region’s producers and highlighting the wide range of products available in store. Under the initiative, local producers continue to use their own packaging, clearly stating the product’s provenance, and customers can easily identify local products thanks to new hanging boards, and labelling on shelves and in chilled and frozen sections.

The retailer’s locally-sourced products come directly from the grower or producer.

Mr Warden said: “I’m delighted with our new branding which is already giving greater prominence to locally sourced products in our Essex stores.

“It not only promotes local products to our customers, but also highlights what we do to other producers in the region.

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“We have over 90 local producers across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex selling over 500 products and we are constantly looking for new suppliers and introducing new products.”

One of the retailer’s newest suppliers, Coddenham-based Louise Miller, from The Suffolk Pate Company, was among the producers at Framlingham offering tastings of her products.

“We have locally reared meat, fruit and vegetables grown in fields near our stores, fish smoked by local fishmongers and bread from craft bakers, plus a whole host of other products from the region’s finest producers large and small,” said Mr Warden.

“Sales levels for locally sourced products are far ahead of expectations, clearly demonstrating to us that this is something that our customers want. Local strawberries are hugely popular at the moment and we can sell every punnet that our producers can supply.”